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Soon, Men Can Take Charge of Their Fertility with Drugstore Test
by Leigh Ann Woodruff, March 9, 2012
Men, get ready. Like March Madness basketball, male fertility is now in the limelight, and you can take charge. In just a few weeks, you'll be able to walk into the drugstore to purchase at-home test that will indicate whether their sperm counts are normal.
And really, isn't it about time? Women have always been the ones who take on the burden of getting pregnant, using ovulation predictor kits and worrying about their fertility. A new survey conducted for SpermCheck Fertility®, found that 42 percent of women say they became obsessed with getting pregnant once they started trying, yet only 10 percent say their male partners shared the obsession.
And when things don't happen right away, the women also take on that responsibility — even though fertility doctors estimate that up to 50 percent of cases of infertility are attributable to the male partner. Low sperm count is often one of the reasons. "People don't believe it's a 50-50 proposition," says Pamela Madsen, a nationally recognized fertility educator, advocate and founder of the American Fertility Association. "[They believe] it's still the women's fault! And women still believe it, and women are still the ones taking control — they are the ones that believe it's their fault, that conception rests squarely on their shoulders, and they're the ones leading the way most times."
The survey was conducted with women ages 18 to 44 years who had a child within the last five years or were planning or trying to get pregnant. The researchers conducted 300 interviews, asking the participants whether they agreed or disagreed with various statements. The survey found that a majority of women — approximately two-thirds — were interested in knowing more about their partner's sperm count.
Some of the interesting results were:
- 83 percent of women trying to or planning to conceive say their partner assumes he is fertile.
- 43 percent of women say their partner would like to know for sure that his sperm count is normal.
- 67 percent of women say they would like to know their partner's sperm count is normal when they start trying to get pregnant.
- 49 percent of women who took longer than expected to conceive indicated their significant other was not eager to have his sperm count tested.
Madsen says the male's reluctance to go to the doctor and have a semen analysis is one reason the SpermCheck fertility test is a great tool for couples who are not getting pregnant quickly. In approximately 10 minutes, The FDA-approved test indicates if the sperm count is within "normal" range (at or above 20 million sperm per milliliter) or low, which would indicate the individual or couple should visit a fertility doctor or urologist for a true semen analysis. "The point is it's an early warning system for couples, so they can see the appropriate people at the appropriate time to save money, time, emotional suffering," Madsen says.
The SpermCheck Fertility® test is like a fire alarm in your home, according to Madsen. "It's not going to give you the analysis of how the fire is starting, but you are alerted to the fact that there's trouble." SpermCheck does not measure other sperm parameters: sperm motility (sperm movement) and sperm morphology (sperm shape and appearance).
As a fertility coach, Madsen says the test is ideal for the couple who is just starting out in the conception journey and is not getting pregnant right away, particularly if the woman is over 35. Getting more information earlier can save precious months for older women and get them into see a fertility doctor faster.
"The No. 1 thing that I come across are women in some kind of medical treatment around their fertility with gynecologists, where their husband doesn't want to come in for a semen analysis," she says. "And the gynecologist says 'Oh, it's no problem, we'll put you on Clomid for a little while.' This is very common. "Why should [the woman be exposing herself to anything until we know what's going on with him?"
SpermCheck Fertility® is available online through CVS.com and Walgreens.com, and it will be available in Walgreen's stores starting in April. And yes, according to the survey results, it's likely that women will be buying the test and bringing it home to their partners. But at least now there's an easy way to get more information about the male half of the equation.